Kosta Barbarouses has ignited his season and taken Sydney FC up to third place on the A-League table with a double strike of high quality that helped bury his former club Wellington Phoenix 2-1 at Jubilee Stadium.
The Kiwi international, who has been entrusted with the chief striking duties for the Sky Blues following the departure of Adam Le Fondre, suffered a slow start to the campaign with only one goal from the opening four games.
But any immediate concerns over his role leading the line for the reigning champions were put to bed with two excellent finishes either side of half-time.
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It was German Alex Baumjohann who deserves the plaudits for the opening goal, however, as he delivered a quite delightful through ball that cut out the Phoenix defence completely, allowing Barbarouses to then squeeze it home.
But the second was mainly the 30-year-old’s doing as he latched onto a smart flick on from substitute Jordi Swibel and blasted home a left foot effort from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The only sour note for Sydney from their second win in a row, was an innocuous knee injury to Chris Zuvela which saw him stretchered off late in the second half and will have many at the club concerned due to his recent return from an ACL tear.
That incident was followed by Wellington’s late strike which ensured a nervy finish for the home side.
Playmaker Ulises Davila, with his own Mexican fan club in attendance, beat Andrew Redmayne from distance with a sweet left foot strike before the Phoenix went close to an equaliser when Louis Fenton’s header in stoppage time hit the crossbar.
The defeat however is the New Zealand’s outfit third of the campaign as they sit second bottom early on in a season that has them based out of Wollongong due to COVID travel restrictions.
KIDS ARE AT IT AGAIN
In the absence of the injured Trent Buhagiar and with Bobo not yet ready, Steve Corica turned to the kids to fill the striking void. 18-year-old Patrick Wood was lively early on his starting debut, going close to scoring after 14 minutes while his replacement Swibel was instrumental in creating the second goal.
The flag of Mexico was out in force at Jubilee Stadium as members of Sydney’s Mexican community appeared in their droves to cheer on Wellington star Ulises Davila who gave them something to cheer with his late strike.
OLD MATES CLASH ONCE MORE
Wellington coach Ufuk Talay spent a season as Steve Corica’s assistant at Sydney and their respective tactics continue to mirror each other.
While Sydney claimed all three points, Talay again tested his former club with a near replica of their playing style.